49ers

The number of people who hate the NFL has grown, but worse...

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AP

The number of people who hate the NFL has grown, but worse...

The latest leak-assault on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s position came and went, and we are back in that familiar holding pattern – the NFL takes a blow, Goodell’s job security takes a media pounding, and then we move on to the next crisis.

Which may be just as the owners really want it – only at a lower cost.

And that remains the core problem here. Money.

I know. Who would have guessed?

Goodell has turned a once-popular hire into a lightning rod for disaffection with the NFL. He is blamed for things that are his fault, things that aren’t his fault, and things that would be his fault if you could forget that he works for 32 other people.

But the story that Jerry Jones and like-minded billionaires are still loaded for bear about his contract as well as his conduct comes out on Sundays (normally), when the largest audience is stuck into their football regimen.

And why all this? It isn’t just to save a few million on the commissioner’s office. It’s because the NFL is shrinking culturally, and there’s no spreadsheet for that. Youth football participation is down. Ratings are down (Sunday’s Steelers-Lions game was routed by the World Series). Medical and ethical concerns are rampant. Technology is conspiring with younger viewing tastes to lower interest. The game makes political firestorms every week. Los Angeles is a sinkhole. Even the Las Vegas bookmakers are seeing much more action on college games than pro games.

And someone has to be made to pay for this, so Jones, his ox being gored with the Ezekiel Elliott issue, has turned on Goodell.

But the real problem is the promise made 10 years ago that the NFL would have $25 billion in annual revenues by 2027. It prioritized a furious growing of the business with a neglect of the sport and its practitioners, and made an already arrogant corporation downright soul-free.

In short, the number of people who hate the NFL has grown, but worse, the number of people who could take it or leave it has grown even more. It’s a bit like church – once you stop seeing the value in attending, you decide to sleep in more often, and soon you’re sleeping in all the time.

But in agitating for Goodell’s firing, Jones and his compatriots lose the one thing that separates them from the angry mobs outside the gate. Goodell, misery farm that he is, gives good shield for The Shield, and if he has failed, it is in keeping the owners free from public harm. They wanted the spotlight, they got it, and now they can’t see clearly for all the flop sweat.

So whether Goodell leaves or not really isn’t important any more. The curtain has been moved, Oz is revealed, and a growing number of people don’t like the show. That $25 billion seems like it’s going to be a million miles away, if it happens at all.

49ers Insider Matt Maiocco's first-round NFL mock draft

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MATT MAIOCCO

49ers Insider Matt Maiocco's first-round NFL mock draft

1, Cleveland: QB Sam Darnold, USC
New Browns GM John Dorsey has done a nice job of creating some intrigue, but all the names you've heard within the past week are probably only smokescreens.

2, N.Y. Giants: QB Josh Allen, Wyoming
Eli Manning is 37, and the strong-armed Allen will spend a year as his understudy.

3, N.Y. Jets: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater can step aside for the new guy to take over sooner than later.

4, Cleveland: DE Bradley Chubb, N.C. State
Chubb teams up with Myles Garrett on the other side to provide a lethal pass rush.

5, Denver: RB Saquan Barkley, Penn State
If Barkley is not here, they will gladly go with Denzel Ward to shore up the secondary.

6, Indianapolis: G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
The Colts finally supply Andrew Luck with a bodyguard . . . assuming he ever gets healthy enough to benefit from the presence of the draft’s best O-lineman.

7, Tampa Bay: DB Derwin James, Florida State
The Bucs add a defensive back who also gives their poor run defense a lift with his play close to the line of scrimmage.

8, Chicago: CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State
The Bears have a lot of options for providing defensive coordinator Vic Fangio with some help, but settle on the best cover man.

9, 49ERS: DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Versatile. High character. Great leader. Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt are both entering the final year of their contracts. He fits an immediate need, too. What’s not to like about this pick? With Reuben Foster’s status being uncertain, either Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds would make a lot of sense, too.

10, RAIDERS: LB Roquan Smith, Georgia
The Raiders have a hole in the middle of their defense as NaVorro Bowman remains a free agent. The Raiders finally address what has been a need for several seasons.

11, Miami: QB Josh Rosen, UCLA
Coach Adam Gase has no issues taking a QB who is strong-willed enough to ask a lot of questions and flash some attitude from time to time.

12, Buffalo: LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
If the Bills do not move up to get a quarterback, they can remain right here and get a player who is easily a top-10 defensive talent.

13, Washington: DT Vita Vea, Washington
Oh, Jim Tomsula is going to love working with this huge, athletic presence in the middle of the line.

14, Green Bay: DE Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio
He's a unique personality with unique size and athleticism. But he’s going to have to develop more than just a bull rush to get to QBs in the NFL.

15, Arizona: CB Josh Jackson, Iowa
The Cardinals might have a need at quarterback, but the Jackson they select is the guy who led the nation in interceptions last season.

16, Baltimore: WR D.J. Moore, Maryland
This is a tough call, but the Ravens remain local instead of selecting the pass-catcher from Alabama.

17, L.A. Chargers: DT Da’Ron Payne, Alabama
His versatility to play both interior positions and rush the passer should fit well in Gus Bradley’s scheme.

18, Seattle: DE Harold Landry, Boston College
He might be undersized, but he fits in the scheme as the Seahawks try to replenish their pass rush.

19, Dallas: WR Courtland Sutton, SMU
This is a tough call, but the Cowboys remain local instead of selecting the pass-catcher from Alabama.

20, Detroit: LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State
Hey, the guy played eight-man football in high school, so he knows how to cover some ground to make plays.

21, Cincinnati: T Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
Don’t be surprised if McGlinchey, the best offensive tackle available, goes much earlier than this – like within the top 12 picks.

22, Buffalo: G/C James Daniels, Iowa
After the retirements of Eric Wood and Richie Incognito, Daniels represents the intersection of need and best-player available.

23, New England: LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama
Bill Belichick needs a linebacker and his old buddy, Nick Saban, has just the man for him.

24, Carolina: CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville
The Panthers agreed to a deal with free-agent Bashaud Breeland but he failed the physical. Alexander steps in to fill a hole.

25, Tennessee: DT Taven Bryan, Florida
Bryan takes the spot the Titans tried to fill with Ndamukong Suh, who signed with the L.A. Rams, instead.

26, Atlanta: TE Hayden Hurst, South Carolina
Hurst and Dallas Goedert are first-round talents at TE, but Hurst gets his name called here.

27, New Orleans: WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
The Saints stop the fall of the guy whom many considered to be the top receiver in the draft.

28, Pittsburgh: TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State
The Steelers traded for Vance McDonald last year and, obviously, they remain in the market for a playmaker in this spot.

29, Jacksonville: G Will Hernandez, UTEP
The Jags broke the bank to land Andrew Norwell in free agency, and they bring in another powerful presence to open holes for Leonard Fournette.

30, Minnesota: T Kolton Miller, UCLA
If they’re going to guarantee Kirk Cousins all that money, they better bring along someone to protect their investment.

31, New England: QB Kyle Lauletta, Richmond
There are still a lot of questions why Belichick gave away Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for just a second-round pick. In Lauletta, they’re getting the closest thing in this draft to Garoppolo. Just to bring it full circle, they could just wait until No. 43 – the pick acquired from the 49ers for Garoppolo – to make this selection.

32, Philadelphia: WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
Kirk is a perfect fit for this offense and gives Carson Wentz a nice welcome-back gift upon his return to the playing field.

49ers seven-round NFL Mock Draft: Will team protect Jimmy Garoppolo?

49ers seven-round NFL Mock Draft: Will team protect Jimmy Garoppolo?

The reasonable options for the 49ers’ first-round draft pick are mostly on the defensive side.

They could have their choice of linebackers Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds, or defensive backs Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James.

But in this seven-round mock draft, it turns out the 49ers spend their first two selections on the other side of the ball to protect and serve the face of their franchise.

The 49ers enter the draft with nine scheduled selections. They can be expected to make some moves along the way with four picks within the first 74 selections. It’s more likely the 49ers would trade back from No. 9, but they also have some options later in the draft to move up to get a player they target.

Here is a look at the players the 49ers could add over the course of the three-day draft (Thursday-Saturday):

1. First round (No. 9): OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
The 49ers invested greatly in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. It would make a lot of sense if the 49ers put a plan in place to keep him protected for the foreseeable future. McGlinchey (6-8, 310) is widely considered the top offensive tackle in the draft. He is smart enough to learn multiple positions as a rookie. He could start off at guard and swing tackle before transitioning to a starting tackle spot at the proper time. Right tackle Trent Brown is scheduled for unrestricted free agency, and the 49ers appear reluctant to present him with a lucrative, long-term contract offer. Six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley turns 34 during training camp.

2. Second round (No. 59): WR Anthony Miller, Memphis
This is not a statement against the wide receivers already on the 49ers’ roster. This is all about the vision for Miller being inserted into Kyle Shanahan’s scheme and how he can become a trusted target for Garoppolo for many years. Miller (5-11, 200) could easily be the best all-around wide receiver in this draft with his understanding of the game and his willingness to mix it up.

3. Third round (No. 70): EDGE Sam Hubbard, Ohio State
The 49ers must improve their pass rush. Hubbard may not be a double-digit sack producer, but he will work hard and should be a solid player for a long time. After Bradley Chubb, this draft has a lot of question marks at edge rusher. Hubbard is not far behind the two other edge rushers – Marcus Davenport and Harold Landry – who are likely to be selected in the middle of the first round.

4. Third round (No. 74): LB Fred Warner, BYU
Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds are widely considered two of the more likely options for the 49ers with their first-round selection. But the 49ers can wait a little while and fill this spot while Reuben Foster’s future with the organization remains uncertain. Warner (6-3 ½, 235) has good height and can get a lot stronger. He has the athleticism to run and cover.

5. Fourth round (No. 128): CB Carlton Davis, Auburn
Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon are the starting cornerbacks. The 49ers can use another young player to develop as a mid-round pick behind Sherman, who entered the NFL as a fifth-round pick in 2011. Davis (6-1, 205) has good size and arm length, and his skills as a press corner are a good fit for the 49ers’ scheme.

6. Fifth round (No. 143): S Kyzir White, West Virginia
The only thing wrong with the three safeties currently on the 49ers who project as starters is that two of them – Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt – are not signed beyond this season. White (6-2, 219) could ultimately be a good fit at strong safety. Although he does not run well, he would immediately be one of the team’s core special-teams players.

7. Sixth round (No. 184): OT Brandon Parker, North Carolina A&T
He is big (6-7 1/2, 302), smart and athletic. But he is also very raw and needs to get a lot stronger. The 49ers have the time to develop him, as there would be no need to get him on the field as a rookie.

8. Seventh round (No. 223): RB Justin Jackson, Northwestern
Jackson (6-0, 199) proved his durability in college with 1,142 carries for 5,440 yards during his four-year career. He has elusiveness and good speed. He must get stronger to put himself in position to contribute on special teams and be ready if his number is called on offense.

9. Seventh round (No. 240): TE Will Dissly, Washington
Dissly (6-4, 262) takes over the role that veteran Logan Paulsen filled last season as a blocking specialist. Dissly moved to offense after beginning his college career as a defensive end. He was the second-slowest tight end at the combine (4.87 seconds in the 40-yard dash). But that's OK. He is here for his power, not his finesse.